Tiresome taggers caught in the act

Newt graffiti tag on power box

Tiresome taggers whose scrawls blight parts of the city are being targeted by Kent Police and Canterbury City Council.

Tiresome taggers whose scrawls blight parts of the city are being targeted by Kent Police and Canterbury City Council.

Both organisations are working hard to catch the vandals whose criminal damage is costing council taxpayers and businesses thousands of pounds to clean off.

In a sign that the action being taken is paying off, the early hours of 9 December last year saw council CCTV operators alert Kent Police that damage was being caused to a number of wooden huts in Whitefriars Street and St George’s Street.

Officers attended the scene where they seized a marker pen and arrested a 22-year-old man from Folkestone on suspicion of criminal damage. He admitted the offence and as part of a community resolution he had to clean up the graffiti he had carried out. He also apologised to the owner of the huts for the damage caused.

Earlier in the year, patrols saw a person spraying graffiti within a car park in Castle Street shortly before 2pm on 23 November. A 14-year-old boy from Canterbury was stopped by officers and cans of spray paint were seized.

He admitted causing the damage and it was dealt with through a community resolution where he apologised and cleaned off the graffiti. His parents and school were also made aware.

In August last year, a 24-year-old man cleaned up his own graffiti from Morrisons in Ten Perch Road, Canterbury, after being photographed in the act of tagging by a passerby and that image being passed to the police.

Chief Inspector for Canterbury and Dover, Elena Hall said: “We continue to work with partner agencies to identify those responsible for carrying out graffiti and take appropriate action to stop them.

“As those we have already dealt with for causing criminal damage have found out, it takes more time and hard work to clean off the graffiti than it does to create it in the first place. It is unsightly, costly to remove, and can have an impact not just on the victims, but the wider community too.

“Our message is clear: graffiti is a crime, it is not tolerated and we continue to urge people to report offences and call 999 if they see a crime in progress.”

The council continues to offer a £500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of graffiti vandals and has had a number of reports that it is investigating. Information can be emailed in confidence to [email protected]

Recently-appointed Community Safety Officer Debbie Heath is working with businesses and homeowners to help them design out opportunities for taggers to vandalise other people’s property, with schools to help them encourage children not to become vandals, as well as spot tags on exercise books, and with community groups who clean up graffiti.

The council's dedicated graffiti enforcement officer Steve Broomhead visits residents who have tags on their homes to encourage them to sign waiver forms which then allow the council to clean up.

He is also building relationships with BT, Open Reach, Network Rail and other large corporations who have street furniture or locations that get tagged, in order to get them to respond more quickly to reports of tags on their property.

Residents are encouraged to report directly to the companies as well as to the council. This will further encourage them to respond more quickly.

The council’s Contracts team has been arranging extra cleaning by its contractor Serco, including a number of blitzes.

Chairman of the council’s Community Committee, Cllr Neil Baker, said: “As we have said time and again, we recognise that graffiti is affecting people’s quality of life and cleaning it up is hitting people in the pocket.

“We are working hard to prevent graffiti, catch the perpetrators and clean it up as quickly as we can to break the cycle and to send a message that tagging is not welcome in the district.

“They say information is power so we need everyone to keep reporting graffiti to the council and the police so we can wipe it off and they can build up a proper picture of the offending that is taking place.”

Graffiti can be reported on the council's website. To report it to Kent Police, visit kent.police.uk or call 101. Call 999 if you see someone committing criminal damage.

Published: January 17th 2020